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Ok, so…as many of you know if you follow my blog or fan page, I work exclusively from home. That has been the case since early last year. It hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. Honestly, it would probably be easier to get a 9-5 job. You go to work, stay there for however many hours, come home, get paid, repeat. When you work from home, it’s a bit different. At least for me it is. I haven’t quite perfected my daily schedule so my days and weeks are generally a mish mash of taking care of my son, getting some work done, doing school work, and trying to find some time in there for myself. But, you know what? I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. The ability to work from home is amazing. And rewarding. But that is a topic for another day.

Today I wanted to talk about something that I get asked about a lot. I’ve shared several times a bit of info on the different things I do to make money from home. I ghostwrite (I’ve been working with the same person for 1.5 years and love it), run a couple of direct sales businesses (just added on another one recently), and do a bit of mystery shopping.

Now, people are interested in all of these sources of income, but the one I get the most questions about is mystery shopping. Probably because it is the one that people have the most trouble believing is actually legit. The question that most people ask me is “Is mystery shopping a scam?”.

The answer is no. Mystery shopping itself is not a scam. Yes, there are some scams out there. That holds true for a lot of different types of money making opportunities. Even regular jobs. I mean, think about Craigslist. Someone can post a job opportunity on there that sounds perfectly legit, but then when you show up for the interview you realize quickly that it was a sham. However, if you go about it the right way, mystery shopping is a very real opportunity. You apply for the different mystery shopping companies. They send you info on the shops they need done. You accept the ones that you want to do and complete them. You submit your report (you have to be sure to follow the instructions to a tee). You get paid/reimbursed. It’s pretty straightforward.

So what, exactly, is a mystery shopper (also called a secret shopper)? It’s sort of like an undercover customer. See, companies want to be sure that their employees are doing what they are supposed to do. Are they keeping the premises clean and orderly? Are they providing great customer service? Are they promoting products and specials to customers? So they have mystery shoppers come in and find out — on the sly. We go in and pretend to be regular customers. We ask questions about products and services, make purchases, process returns. The same things other customers do. We also take notice of things like store cleanliness, how long we had to wait before being serviced, and things like that. Then we submit a report for the company to review. They compensate us for our time and we go on our merry little way.

One thing I love about mystery shopping (aside from the easy money) is the variety. There are so many types of shops available. Some shops are more involved than others. Some require an upfront purchase (you are typically reimbursed and compensated). Some are short and sweet. Some take a bit more time. And then there are different kinds of shops. Sometimes you will go to a store and make a purchase. Sometimes you will have to preorder something online then go pick it up at the store. Sometimes you just have to ask questions. Then there are the ones that I really like — the apartment shops.

Have you every gone apartment hunting? You go to different apartments and ask to be given a tour of the facilities to see if it is somewhere you would like to live. You get info on the costs and amenities. Just checking out your options. You actually can get PAID to do that. You go through the same process and then just submit a detailed report. Sometimes you have to take pictures or videos of the premises. And often the compensation is pretty good. I’ve gotten paid up to $50 just for spending 20 minutes having someone show me around an apartment complex. I like to set it up so that I do a couple of these in a short period of time. I once made $100 in a weekend just by doing 4 apartment shops. Easy way to supplement your income.

I also love the flexibility. As a mystery shopper, you are not an employee. You are an independent contractor. That means you only accept the jobs you want to do. You can go months or years without doing a shop, and then decide to do one. You can do one every month. You can do one every day. Or several in a day. It’s totally up to you.

A few things to note about mystery shopping:
1. You have to be very observant and have a good memory. When you do your shops, you cannot let on that you are actually doing a shop. They have to think you are just another person. So you can’t sit there taking notes on everything they say right in front of them. They might get suspicious. SO you have to be able to take notice of things and remember them for when you are writing up your report.
2. You have to follow directions. If you leave out info, you may not be compensated. So make sure you read the instructions carefully and triple check your report before submitting it.
3. It is NOT a get rich quick scheme. You’re not going to make millions from doing this. Most people only make $100 a month extra if they do it regularly (though one method is to only do the shops that have higher compensation levels so you do less but get paid more — that’s why I love the apartment shops).
4. There are scams out there, so you have to be careful. If you didn’t apply to receive shops and you receive requests, it might just be a scam.
5. It is best to have a strategy. For example, you should learn how to schedule a line of shops that you can do in one day — maximizing on your time and gas money.

Now, when I first heard about mystery shopping, I didn’t think it was legit. And I certainly didn’t know how to make money doing it. But then I met someone (that I have known for almost two years now) that does mystery shopping and is pro at it. Like…a serious pro. The things she has been able to do because of mystery shopping are amazing. Free food, free vacations…all types of stuff. And she had an ebook that explained step by step how to get into mystery shopping and do it…the right way. In fact, I think I am going to revisit it. Without this ebook I really would not have known what I was doing. Honestly, I don’t think I would have even gotten into mystery shopping. I’m so glad I read it!

Check out How to Be an A-List Mystery Shopper. If you are really interested in mystery shopping as a way to earn some extra money each month, then I HIGHLY recommend this resource. I did a lot of research when I was trying to find out about mystery shopping and this one is hands down the most detailed and helpful. She really knows her stuff!

Anyways, that’s about it for me ladies and gents. Bottom line: mystery shopping is a legit way to make some extra money. Especially if you do it the right way. Plus, it’s kinda fun!

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